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    Fitz
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Moving On - 6. Chapter 6 - Reunions

Scott returns home on the anniversary of Steve's death.

Revised: 10/2013. No major content changes.

CHAPTER SIX

REUNIONS

 

Soon enough, my plane landed, and I took my time walking back to the main terminal instead of riding the shuttle. I wasn't trying to dawdle in hopes of blowing off Tom, although I have to admit I considered it. I hoped that by stalling, my head would clear a little. I wasn't ready to be back, but I didn't have a choice. Besides, I knew I would probably never be ready.

Tom met me as soon as I walked up the stairs from the security area. He had my bags in hand, having grabbed them from the carousel already. The first thing I noticed when looking at Tom was all the ways he differed from Steve. I had first seen Tom as Tom and not as a surrogate Steve, despite all the ways they were similar. 'Maybe this wouldn't be that hard,' I thought. I suddenly realized I was staring at him.

"Is everything okay? First you take forever to get from your plane, and then you just stare at me blankly."

"Sorry, I walked; I needed to clear my head. Just now, I was noticing all the ways that you're not Ste… him."

"That's good enough for me. I was really worried how you'd react when you saw me. Are you hungry? We might as well get some food before we get out of here. I'm not sure I'll want to stop once we leave, and neither one of us will be hungry after…" Tom trailed off.

We both knew what he was going to say, and neither one of us really wanted to vocalize it.

We grabbed a bite at one of the sit down restaurants in the main terminal. We chatted, not really talking about ourselves. It was nice to reconnect. Tom and I had been really close before Steve died. Sometimes Steve would joke that it was because I was hoping to bag a matching set. Either way, I missed having my friend by my side more than I realized.

"Would it be alright if I stayed with you for a while?" he asked out of the blue.

"Yeah, that should be fine. It feels good to have you back in my life. Is everything okay?"

"Things have been very tense at home, and I need to get out, but more than that, I miss having you around. You were always my other best friend. Besides, I know a part of you needs me there, whether or not you'll admit it."

We kept talking for a while after we finished eating. I know the waiter was getting irritated, but both of us were avoiding our next stop. Before we left, we did have a minor confrontation.

"I just wanted to let you know I've talked with your parents, Dustin and Michelle, and Ethan and Emma. I know what all went down while you were away. I know the destructive ways you tried to avoid coping with your grief. I also know you're doing a little better. I need you as much, if not more than, you need me. You have no idea how much pain I've been in."

"What the hell do you mean by that? I lost the love of my life that day, and you think I have no idea how much pain you've been in? What the fuck would you know about it? You've never been in love." My voice kept getting louder, as I let my anger take control.

"Yeah, and you've never had a twin," he said quietly, wiping a tear from his eyes.

My jaw just dropped. While I had been almost yelling by the end of my response, his rebuttal was almost a whisper. I slumped back in the chair as reality hit again.

"Look, I think we're just both really tense about this afternoon. We both had an extremely special connection to an extraordinary person. Neither of us know how to put our feelings into perspective. Tom, I didn't mean it."

"Yes, you did, or at least part of you did. But I get what you're saying. The part of our brains that censors our irrational thoughts seems to be on the fritz for both of us; you especially, no offense."

I just offered him a thin smile, which he returned. We grabbed my bags and began to walk to the car. We drove in silence to the cemetery.

–  –  –  *  *  *  –  –  –

It wasn't long before we pulled up to the familiar wrought-iron gate of the cemetery. After Tom parked, we sat in the car for several minutes. Neither of us were quite ready to get out of the car; just as I had done in the airport, we were simply delaying the inevitable. Tom eventually got out of the car, unable to put it off any longer.

"I'll be there in a few minutes. I just need to gather my thoughts… and my courage," I told him quietly.

"That's fine. I'd like to have a few minutes by myself anyway. I'll see you up there whenever you're ready. Remember, I'm here for you."

About ten minutes later, I summoned the nerve to join him. I slowly walked up the hill to Steve's headstone. My knees were weak, and it took all the strength I had just to put one foot in front of the other.

As soon as I approached the headstone, my knees finally gave out. I just lay there, clutching Steve's headstone, sobbing uncontrollably. All of the emotions I had tried for so long to keep bottled up came rushing out of me.

I'm not sure how long I lay there before I felt warmth surround me. Suddenly, I heard Steve's voice speak to me for the first time since I left town all those months before. It was different than when he came to me in my dreams, more disjointed. It almost seemed like it was a rush of statements all spoken at once.

"I'm glad you're here."

"I forgive you for everything."

"I need you here."

"I need you to be strong."

"I still love you."

"You need to stay."

Just as suddenly as Steve's voice had appeared, it was gone. It was almost like a gentle breeze that stops suddenly. I realized Tom was holding me.

"Did you just hear that?" I asked him, hopeful that I wasn't the only one who could hear Steve's voice.

"Hear what? I was just holding you and trying to comfort you."

"Oh."

That really was all that I could think of to say. We lay there a little longer, not speaking, or even moving, for that matter. Eventually, we got up without a word, and slowly walked back towards the car.

"You know, I've been wondering about something ever since the funeral. I've always wondered where you went when you ran out."

"I wasn't really paying attention, but I ended up at a coffee shop about two miles from here. You knew that though, didn't you? That's where I ran into Will."

"Do you want to walk it? I feel like moving around to clear my head. I just can't seem to shake this foggy feeling."

The whole idea of this walk seemed weird to me, but I didn't respond. It seemed out of character for Tom, and I noticed how he never answered my question. I did like the idea of wandering and clearing my head, but I didn't know if I wanted to go back to the coffee shop; there was a long-shot that I might see Will there. I wasn't sure I could deal with running into him. Besides, Tom's car was here.

"What about your car? If we walk, we'd have to walk the two miles back."

Tom thought about it for a second as we continued to walk. I began to think he had abandoned the idea, when he said, "Nah, we can just take a cab back to the car if we don't feel like walking back."

"Why the coffee shop? It just seems like too specific of a destination for a random stroll through Atlanta."

"It's a perfect destination; we just visited Steve, and now we are retracing the steps you took the last time you were here. I'm not sure if it's closure or what, but you probably were so far in your head that the run was miserable."

"In case you haven't noticed, I'm not exactly in shape for a two mile run in the summer heat," I said, pointing at my gut

"Hence why I suggested we walk. Besides, you haven't noticed where we are yet; we're now closer to the coffee shop than we are to the car. We might as well keep going."

I was surprised when I realized we had already walked about a mile.

"What the hell; we might as well keep going. I could definitely use an iced coffee or something, anyway."

We continued the rest of the trip in near silence. Occasionally, a few words would pass back and forth before the silence once again engulfed us.

As we walked into the coffee shop, I immediately noticed Will sitting at a table facing the door. He looked surprised to see me, but not nearly as surprised as I was to see him. Will stood up, but was suddenly unsure if he should hug me or shake my hand. I solved his dilemma by giving him a curt nod in acknowledgement, and made no effort to make contact.

"I didn't know you were back in town. What brings you back?" Will asked, clearly ignoring my attempts to be rude and dismissive.

"You know why I'm here." I responded icily.

Will looked hurt for a moment; then it was as if a light bulb went off above his head. The pain in his eyes changed to compassion.

"Has it been a year already?" he asked me.

"Today's the anniversary of his death. I really can't believe it's been a year since Steve died. It really just…"

I was going to keep talking, but I realized what had slipped out of my mouth. I covered my mouth with my hands, as if to prevent other words from slipping out as well. Will's face grew into a big grin.

"I'm really proud of you; it may not seem like much, but you've definitely made progress. Trust me, it's a big deal."

I did believe him; as soon as the words slipped out, I cringed, expecting a surge of pain and sadness to overwhelm me. Instead, I actually felt almost…. well, good – not entirely, though, and there was still some pain. I began to realize why Will had pushed me from the first time we met to try to get me to say that Steve had died.

"Anyway, now that you know why I'm here, I'm curious as to why you are. You once told me before I left that you rarely came here."

"Tom called yesterday and asked if we could talk this afternoon. He suggested we meet here. I never expected to see you, though. Please, Scott, I'm not trying to –"

I was beginning to get angry at both of them. If Tom had called Will, then surely he was aware of the stunt Will pulled on me. I couldn't fathom towards what goal they were conspiring.

"Scott, listen," Tom began, "Will really didn't know you were coming. I doubt he would have come had I told him my plan to get you to talk. I know you won't even consider seeing anyone officially, but Will was able to get you to come to life a little, from what Sarah has told me. I thought maybe y'all could patch up your differences so you'd have someone to open up to again."

"I'm not sure I can, not after what happened."

I realized we were talking about Will as if he wasn't standing next to us.

"Sorry, Will… I…"

I didn't know what else to say at the moment, so I just let my voice trail off. Tom jumped right back in.

"Well, maybe you can get a sense of closure, if nothing else. Sit with him and talk about what happened, your feelings, whatever; just don't run off. I'm going to go ahead and catch a taxi back to my car. Do you want some money for cab fare?"

I just shook my head.

"Ok, I'll see you back at your house," he called over his shoulder, already halfway out the door.

"Scott, please believe me, I really didn't know you were coming. Had I known, I would have called you or something. You know I wouldn't try to hurt you more than I already have, right?"

"I believe you. Why don't we at least sit down, or something, before people start staring at us?"

We both took our seats but sat there staring at our hands. I don't think either of us knew how to start the conversation we needed to have. Finally, I took the initiative.

"Look, Will, I don't hate you, or anything like that. I never thought of you that way; I'm not sure if I could ever think of you as anything other than a friend. After what you did, everything came to the surface and it was all too much for me to handle. I just had to get the fuck out of this city."

He seemed surprised that I wasn't still angry. Sure, what he did had really screwed with my mind, but that was nothing compared to the internal torment I endured while staying with Dustin and Michelle.

"I really don't know what came over me that night. I thought you had been possibly moving on. You had been doing so much better; you were talking about Steve less and less, and you were smiling regularly. If I remember right, I think I even got you to chuckle, if not laugh, a few times. I really thought at the time that you were making your intentions clear when you held my hand the whole way home from the play. When I kissed you, you kissed back."

I could feel the anger rising, and was about to cut in, but Will held his hand up to allow himself to finish before I tore him a new one.

"I realize now that I had misread the signs altogether. In fact, in hindsight, I may have just been looking for an excuse to make a move on you. I'm really sorry for taking advantage of your trust in me."

He looked at me expectantly after a moment, and I realized he was waiting for a response. With what he had just confessed, I couldn't even figure out where to begin.

"Me too," I said after a few moments.

"Do you think you'll ever be able to forgive me? Or trust me?"

Again, it took me a while to formulate a response.

"Honestly, after what you just told me, I think I can forgive you, eventually. Had you not just told me that you knew I wasn't interested, it would be easier for me to chalk it up to a misunderstanding, but I'm glad I know the truth. At least it's better than finding out later. But as far as trust… I'm just not sure about that one."

"No, I understand, and I guess that's completely fair. I'm glad you seem to be moving on, though. You were in so much pain."

"I'm not sure I'm moving on; I'm still not entirely convinced that I want to."

Whatever had happened in the cemetery earlier seemed to have altered my mood a little. Those words, which only a few days before had incited massive panic within me, seemed to only scare me. I remembered Steve had said there was a relationship between forgetting and moving on, but I didn't know quite what he meant. Since they were treated separately by Steve, I was beginning to wonder if I should do the same.

"After you left, I spent a lot of time thinking. I really was deluding myself. I really like you; I tried to put those feelings aside, but I can't. I know you can never return those feelings, especially after I fucked everything up, but is there any way you can see us continuing to be friends at least? If I can't have you in my life at all, I don't know what I'd do."

Will cast his eyes down towards his lap, blinking quickly to keep tears from forming. I wanted to feel bad for him, but I couldn't after his confession. It took me several minutes to form my thoughts; to his credit, Will seemed to know I needed some time to think and never pressured me.

"I don't know if we can ever be as close as we were. I viewed you as a brother and confidant, and you shattered that view."

He looked hopeful when I started talking, but as I continued, he could no longer blink away the tears.

"I think we might be able to salvage some level of friendship, though it will be hard work on both our parts."

Will's hopeful look returned, adorned with an air of confusion.

"I get I would have to work hard for a friendship to work between us, but what would you have to work on?" he asked.

"Just being your friend; that alone will be very difficult for me. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be harsh; it's just the way I feel," I explained.

"No, I understand," Will replied shakily, wiping another tear from his eye.

We sat there quietly for about twenty minutes, staring at our coffee cups, neither of us sure what to say to break the silence. I probably would have just left, but I owed it to both of us to see the conversation through to the end, and I had a nagging feeling Will still had more on his mind.

Finally, Will spoke, "You know, I have a good friend who I turned to talk to after you left. He's a really good listener, if you're interested in meeting him."

"This isn't an attempt to set me up with a shrink is it?" I couldn't help but crack a small smile as I asked.

"Not at all. I'm not sure why you hold us in such low regards, but I actually met him at the gym a few years ago. We worked out for a while and eventually started hanging out. Over the years, he's become one of my best friends. Especially after you…" Will's voice trailed off.

"After I left." I finished for him.

I looked back down at my coffee mug. I never thought he would continue to blame himself to the extent he clearly had over the months. I had foolishly thought that my hurried explanation and whatever Sarah came up with would suffice.

"I appreciate the offer, but let me think about it. I'm not looking to be set up, or meet new people, or anything; I just want to try to pull my life back together."

"I understand. Don't worry; I'm not trying to set you up. I remember how easily you opened up to me, and I think a lot of that had to do with me being a stranger. I didn't know you, had no idea of your pain, and there was no way I could directly relate to your feelings. Anything you told me stayed with me, if for no other reason than I didn't know anyone to tell. Besides, as a psychologist, I take doctor-patient confidentiality seriously, even if you were never officially my patient. The offer to meet my friend stands; just think about it."

It was Will's turn for his eyes to drop to his coffee cup.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but you might want to consider going to the gym. The endorphins and adrenaline released will help you feel more 'normal'. Besides, however you were coping while you were away has led to you becoming a little soft."

I couldn't help but get a little angry. I know he was trying to offer friendly advice, but it was far too soon for me. I'm glad he didn't let me cut him off before I said something I would regret.

"You still look great, don't get me wrong, but you've told me how much you and Steve used to enjoy going to the gym; I'm not trying to replace him in any way. I usually go to the gym in the evenings, if you're interested in coming along. I know you're not ready to be friends, but maybe we could be gym buddies. You wouldn't even have to talk to me."

I sighed; I knew he was right about my body. Ever since I had packed on twenty pounds at Emma and Ethan's house, I had hated my looks, especially since I knew Steve would have ridden me to get back into shape, had he still been alive.

"I guess I can give gym buddies a shot. No guarantees I'll continue it, but I'll go with you once, and we'll take it from there. "

"That'd be great. Why don't we meet up on Monday in front of the gym? It's just a few doors down the street, if you hadn't noticed it before."

"Not to beat a dead horse, but I need you to swear that you have no intentions of making any moves on me and will let any friendship develop on its own with no interference."

"You have my word; I really appreciate you giving me a chance to continue to be in your life; I really wish we had met at a different point; you are a great guy, and I think we could have become really good friends. I'm just grateful for any chance to try to right my wrongs."

One look in Will's eyes told me everything I needed to know. If his wavering voice hadn't been enough, his eyes made it clear he was being completely sincere. I really liked the idea of working out, and maybe spending some time with him might make it easier to forgive him. Will could be a wonderful guy, and I was beginning to appreciate how much he had helped me in the months that followed Steve's death.

I stood up, and held out my hand for Will to shake. He looked slightly disappointed that I didn't offer a hug, but I wasn't ready for that yet. He took my hand and shook it firmly.

"I should really head back to my house to make sure Tom hasn't destroyed anything, but I will meet you at the gym on Monday evening. It would be nice to shed some flab," I said, with a bit of a grin.

"I'm glad we had the chance to talk, Scott. You're a great guy; I really hope I can prove that I just want to be friends."

"Me too," I said as honestly as I could.

I walked outside and flagged down a cab to head back to my house for the first time in nine months.

Revised: 10/2013. Tom now asks if he can stay instead of essentially telling Scott that he is. Scott no longer tries to decide if it was Tom or Steve that spoke to him. There was massive tweeking to the conversation between Scott and Will, but the end result is the same

Any comments, suggestions, or criticisms that you would like to share would also be greatly appreciated! If you have criticisms, please be specific, so that I can try to address them in the future!

Thank you to all my wonderful readers!

Moving On is © Copyright Fitz, 2011-2013. All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

Another emotional chapter. I'm glad Tom set up Will and Scott to talk. Will is really a good guy; he just took his feelings a bit too far.

 

Tom seems like a great guy too; I'm sure he missed Scott as his other best friend. I hope Scott can get past the fact that Tom and Steve were twins, and be the best friend to Tom that he was in the past.

 

Great chapter Fitz. Looking forward to the next one. :)

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On 04/08/2012 12:49 PM, Lisa said:
Another emotional chapter. I'm glad Tom set up Will and Scott to talk. Will is really a good guy; he just took his feelings a bit too far.

 

Tom seems like a great guy too; I'm sure he missed Scott as his other best friend. I hope Scott can get past the fact that Tom and Steve were twins, and be the best friend to Tom that he was in the past.

 

Great chapter Fitz. Looking forward to the next one. :)

And as always, thank you so much for your kind words!
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I just recently found 'Moving On' and am enjoying it very much. I find I can't hold off any longer and must tell you there is no such word as 'anyways'. You tend to use it at the beginning and end of sentences. This is particularly evident in Chapter 6. If you go back and read those lines and leave that word out you will see the lines stand without it. Thanks for doing the work and writing such a great story!

 

Robert in Santa Fe

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On 08/28/2013 06:49 AM, scoot87501 said:
I just recently found 'Moving On' and am enjoying it very much. I find I can't hold off any longer and must tell you there is no such word as 'anyways'. You tend to use it at the beginning and end of sentences. This is particularly evident in Chapter 6. If you go back and read those lines and leave that word out you will see the lines stand without it. Thanks for doing the work and writing such a great story!

 

Robert in Santa Fe

Ugh, yeah... I didn't even realize I was doing it because it's so pervasive in society (and Word doesn't say it's wrong). I defended the practice at one point, since 'anyways' is a vernacular phrase, and it only occurs during dialog, but at some point it began to REALLY bother me! Don't worry...I think it stops around chapter 10...I know it doesn't continue for the rest of the story, but I'm not quite sure where I quit doing that!

 

Glad you're enjoying, and thanks!

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